Possums are protected wildlife and their removal can only be carried out by licensed commercial possum relocators. Having a possum removed is not a quick fix. If the vacated den site is not sealed off it will simply be reoccupied (relocators usually block off any access points then set a cage trap in the ceiling to remove the possum from the roof and release it outside). You may also want to put up a nest box to provide a new home for the possum. Ask your possum relocator to seal off all the entry points to your roof space and install a nest box while they are there.
Relocators must release possums within 25m of the point of capture to ensure that an animal is not released into another possum’s home range. Possums are less likely to survive if they are released into a new area where they do not have access to a den or must compete with a neighbouring possum for den space.
If a brushtail possum can get its head into a space then it can probably squeeze the rest of its body in too. Older homes often have openings into roof cavities that are big enough to let possums in.
Find Out Where They Are Getting In
A simple way to find out whether an opening into the roof cavity of your home is being used by a possum is to loosely scrunch up a few sheets of newspaper and push them into any holes you find. If a possum is using it as an entry point into your roof it will push them out when it emerges at dusk. This process may have to be repeated after a possum has been removed and an entrance is sealed off as a possum may be using a number of entry points. Vegetation overhanging the roof should also be trimmed back at the same time to remove access to other possible entry points.
Closing Off Openings
After an opening has been found it can be sealed off, making sure the possum isn’t trapped inside. To avoid having to do the repair work at night you can cover the entrance with a one-way exit that will allow the possum to leave but stop it from getting back in (this should be done in conjunction with erecting a nest box nearby to give the possum a chance to find alternative shelter). Options for one-way exits include:
- Cutting the bottom out of a heavy duty garbage bag and taping the bag over the exit point will allow the possum to push through it when it emerges but this will create a barrier that stops it from re-entering.
- Attach wire mesh to one side of the opening so that it can be pushed open by a possum as it leaves but springs back into place to stop the possum re-entering (the mesh can be held open with crumpled newspaper that will be pushed out when the possum leaves).
Once certain that the possum is out of the roof, the other side of the mesh can be sealed off to block the entrance. Splashing strong smelling substances like disinfectant or spraying quassia chip solution around the sealed off entrance will discourage a possum from trying to get back in.
Brushtail possums will only survive if they have a den. Without one, they are exposed to a range of daytime threats including attacks from domestic animals and the risk of aggressive encounters with other possums when they try to invade den sites that are already occupied. It’s important to provide alternative accommodation, like a possum box to ensure the possums’ survival.
Possums are very agile climbers and seem to know exactly when fruit and vegetables are ripe. There are several ways to protect your trees and gardens including:
- Using collars of galvanised metal sheeting around the trunks or branches of trees to stop possums climbing. This only works where the collar is wide enough to stop possums jumping over it. Trees will also need to be pruned back so they can’t be reached from the canopy of adjoining trees, fencelines etc.
- Enclosing individual fruit in shade cloth bags or cover them in inverted plastic plant pots that have been split up one side and half the base so that they form ‘bells’ over the top of the fruit.
- Enclose small fruit trees in frames covered in light shade cloth (avoid using any netting that an animal will get entangled in).
- Spraying plants with a solution made from quassia chips to deter brushtail possums.
- Enclosing gardens in wire mesh.